If you are considering starting a decking project on your property, one of the most important decisions you’ll make as part of that project is what type of material to use in constructing your deck. Two of the most popular decking materials are hardwood and composite, and, although both have their pros and cons, evidence is mounting to suggest that composite might not meet homeowners’ expectations. Many of the claims made by composite manufacturing companies have been proven to be inaccurate and misleading, so much so that a class action lawsuit has been filed against the world’s largest manufacturer of composite decking materials for false advertising and selling defective and unsatisfactory product.
The composite companies market their product as “maintenance-free,” and those homeowners who were unfortunate enough to believe this claim (and many were) therefore did not treat their decks against various types of damage. As it turns out, because the composite companies’ claims were lofty and deceptive, these untreated decks were susceptible to all kinds of damage. Below you will find the top five “sad but true” facts about composite:
1. It’s easily stained.
If you’re like most homeowners, you probably plan on using your deck for outdoor dining. Grilling, summer lunches, and family dinners enjoyed outdoors are some of the best parts of having a deck, but, for some composite deck owners, these activities have permanently lowered the value of their deck. This is due to the fact that untreated composite decks, unlike wood decks, are prone to staining should food or drink, especially those that contain oils, happen to be spilled.
2. It fades.
One of the most frustrating drawbacks for composite deck owners (because it directly contradicts the composite companies’ claims) is the problem of fading. Homeowners were led to believe that their deck required no sealing and that it would retain its lustrous color even after withstanding the elements; in fact, that was one of composite’s main attractions. However, most composite deck owners have experienced fading of some sort (sometimes very early in the deck’s life), and, because composite is a manufactured material, the fading is usually uneven, often leaving the deck with an unattractive splotchy or streaky look.
3. It’s too heavy for its own good.
If your composite deck is built on wooden joists, you could find yourself with a sagging deck within a few years. Composite responds to temperatures differently than wood in terms of expanding and contracting, and, because composite is sometimes too heavy to support itself adequately, as the joists move, it could cause significant misshaping over time.
4. It gets hot.
It may seem a strange drawback, but, if you’re like most homeowners and want to enjoy your deck at all times of year (not just in the spring and fall), composite boards that retain heat excessively could significantly reduce your enjoyment of your deck during the hotter summer months. Wood does not retain as much heat, meaning it’s easier to enjoy a wooden deck during the summertime.
5. It gets moldy.
Composite decking was marketed as a mold free product, but many homeowners soon learned the hard way that this was a false comfort. Not only can mold take hold in composite boards, but it can be incredibly difficult to remove. And when it rains and the moldy boards become wet, your deck can become dangerously slippery. As a “solution” to the mold problem, the composite companies suggested that you spray your deck with bleach, but, not only is this toxic to your pets and plants, it is also corrosive to your composite deck, meaning appearance and even stability could become compromised.
In summary, those contemplating constructing a new deck may want to rethink using composite decking materials.
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